October 21, 2019

Socialist Sanders reaches out to right-wing students

th-5LYNCHBURG, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is looking to find common ground with an unlikely voting bloc: conservative evangelicals.

In a speech to students Monday morning at the Liberty University, the self-proclaimed socialist senator from Vermont made the case that his message against income inequality and for social justice is compatible with Christian teachings.

“I came here today because I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse — not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other. It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day,” Sanders told students. “It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort.”

The school, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, often draws prominent conservative figures. Its weekly convocations are attended by over 10,000 Christian students, much of the reason why Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chose the school as the place to launch his presidential bid late last spring. Former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush keynoted the school’s commencement prior to launching his bid. In 2012, the school also saw a visit from Donald Trump.

Following Cruz’s announcement, the school drew fire for its policy of requiring students to attend political speeches. It has since amended its policy to allow students to skip one convocation a semester. However, many students expressed an eagerness to hear from Sanders. “While I a may not agree with him 100 percent, I am glad that Liberty is inviting speakers that we don’t commonly hear from. It is important to hear all sides so we make informed choices when we go vote,” said Matt Ozburn a junior at Liberty University.

Sanders readily admits that his views on hot-button issues like abortion and same-sex marriage place him at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum from many Liberty students. “Let me be very frank. I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to you and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But let me respectfully suggest that there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them,” said Sanders.

Liberty Freshman Josh Doyle agrees, telling the Washington Examiner his message is bigger than social issues. “He has the right idea, he is not forcing people to accept these lifestyles but reminding us we shouldn’t judge and let people be happy. “Jesus helped the underprivileged and cared for the poor, Sanders is not supporting anything Christ didn’t.”

“I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions — Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and others — and which is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12. ‘So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the Law and the prophets,'” the Vermont senator explained to the students. “The Golden Rule. Do to others what you would have them do to you. Not very complicated.”

This is not the first time the school has welcomed speakers that hold differing ideological views. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have each addressed Liberty students and the school played host to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in the late 1980s.

Republican presidential candidates Scott Walker and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are both scheduled to make appearances at Liberty University this fall.

Source: Washington Examiner

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